She's been out of the spotlight over the last few years, but Liv Tyler hits screens this month as Betty in the superhero flick, The Incredible Hulk. The gorgeous actress took time out from her busy schedule to talk about fitness, motherhood and spending time with her three-year-old son, Milo.
Is it hard to raise a kid in New York? It's expensive, for normal people. Most people in New York make a good amount of money and all the ones that don't, have been pushed out to the outer boroughs. It depends on your lifestyle. In some ways it's easier and in some ways it's harder. You open the door, you walk outside, the deli is across the street, the playground is on the corner, your best friend is three doors down. In that sense it's kind of convenient, but it's also hard in a lot of other ways.
How do you balance work and motherhood? Milo's always come with me on every movie I've made. If we are working on a film we just have to be very flexible. It really depends on the movie. I happened to do a couple movies in a row that were really gruelling where I worked every day all day long, many, many hours, and it's hard. I always feel like it's a chunk of time. Like for two or three months you give everything you can and you are a little extra tired and then it's over and you kind of relax. And I spend as much time with Milo as I can and I have the weekend with him. Say I'm night-shooting and I've been up all night and I get home at seven and he's just waking up, I'll stay up with him for a couple hours and cook breakfast and cuddle, and then I'll slip off to bed. So I try and spend as much time with him as I can. And I'm lucky. He's a really cool little dude. He's very self-assured and quite independent and he knows I'm there if he needs me. So when he needs me, which is not a lot, he's not a particularly needy person. A lot of kids are like, "Mommy, mommy!" And he's really not. If he's sick he'll be extra cuddly or something, but he's a pretty cool little guy, cool as in 'cool as a cucumber'.
Did you travel a lot for Hulk? I was just in Toronto. We were going to shoot in New York, but we ran out of money (laughs) and time so they turned Toronto into New York, which I thought was impossible, but it actually worked great. I wish I got to go with them. I was like, "Can Betty be in a dream sequence where you are laying on the beach for some strange reason?" (laughs) But no, that didn't happen. There is a really beyond out-of-control beautiful girl in the movie that is from Brazil and I literally can't even look at her picture without falling over. It's insane. She is going to be an overnight sensation. She's so beautiful! She's got a speaking part. She plays his (Hulk's) friend in Brazil. And they put the glycerin (as fake sweat) on her and her skin and hair and boobies and lips and forget it, she's amazing. She's gorgeous and it's a whole other thing. It's like, I walked past a picture of her in the makeup trailer and I was like, "Who is that person? Why would Bruce come back to me? He should run off with the Brazilian!"
You look great too. How do you take care of yourself? I have a real routine, but I was raised that way so I don't even really think about it. I have some of my friends that don't really wash their face ever or do anything, but I was raised by my grandmother and my mom, and even my dad. I always would wash my face before bed and put on cream and floss my teeth, so it's just very normal to me. I do lots of special treatments, but I do it every day. I just don't even think about it. I put on masks all the time and cream. I'm like a chemist. I have a whole closet of stuff and depending on how my skin is doing or stuff like that.
Do you work out a lot? I do. I wish I could run more. I don't like to run, but I work out when I can. When I'm working on a movie I can't work out ever because I'm working all the time, but I've been home for the past couple of months and I've been working out almost every day, like five days a week with my trainer, David Kirsch. And I love doing that. It feels nice.
Did motherhood change your perspective on your job? Absolutely. I have had such a fantasy my whole life about having a child. The dream of my whole life was I wanted to be a mother. I never had a dream of career. The one thing I knew is I wanted to be a mom so in a lot of ways it was interesting for me because my childhood was very eccentric and different. A lot of it was almost a fantasy I'd created, like, when I do this or when I do that, so to actually experience it and live it, it was everything I'd hoped for and more. But then there was a point after that where it was like, okay, I'd never really planned past this point. Everything I'd dreamed of and hoped for was up until now, so it's given me a new kind of feeling of freedom, I guess in some way. Wow, I have the rest of forever ahead of me. Hopefully I'll live a lot longer that I've already lived. And I'm so grateful to have my son and I get so much joy from every minute. It's really the hardest job in the world, but it's so rewarding and so wonderful. I just feel so lucky to have my little partner in crime and I love experiencing things. I love teaching him things and then he teaches me so much. It's just such an incredible blessing. It's really crazy.
Did you enjoy making this movie? In some ways movie all morph into one. The experience is pretty similar in a lot of ways with different little variants on the theme. And I feel really blessed. I've never had a bad experience making a movie. I really love it and I just love the challenge of the whole experience. It's hard work. This movie more than any other movie I've been part of in my whole life was probably the hardest physical work that I've ever done in my entire life where I was actually involved in every minute of it. I'd worked on movies before where it was hard work and a long shoot, but I didn't necessarily have to be the one doing that every day.
Can you tell more about your role and how big is it? Well, I come into the movie at a certain point and once I come in I'm sort of there so I had a lot to do with Edward and with everyone. There's a lot of explosions and stunts and action things and there is a lot of intimate moments. I don't know exactly what will end up in the movie or not, but just physically I would be on my 14th hour on set. They'd be doing my close-up at four in the morning and I'd just have be okay with that. I thought, thank god I'm 30! (laughs) And a little La Mer around my eyes does wonders, but it was that sort of thing where I felt like it was a very special time in my life that I had, after I had a child I discovered more strength inside myself. And then to be able to explore that and be that strong and be at the age where I could take it. I thought I might not be able to do that forever. I feel really blessed to do that.
Are you strong enough now at 30? Or is it lighting? Both things, like I've come a long way and I'm a woman now and I've got a child and I'm a tough cookie and I know I can do this. If I can have a baby, if I can give birth (laughs), and go flying out of a helicopter on a harness, I know I can! And also that thing where there is a certain point at a certain age where you can't really do a close-up at four in the morning and look fabulous and I'm teetering on that in some ways now, but also the character. I hate when I go to see movies and the girl looks fabulous the whole time with perfect lipstick and hair and makeup when it's an action movie. And I did love this in that Betty is just on this adventure and I had basically no makeup on and I was drenched in rain and sweat and I really enjoyed that because you get to see a more real me. I should look tired. I haven't slept for days and I've been in the rain and running around and my pants are torn and all that stuff (laughs).
Are you trying to give your son a more conventional upbringing than what you had? For me, I think the most important thing I'm trying to convey now, as I said, my life takes a lot of flexibility and it's ever-changing, but to me the most important thing is that Milo knows that I'm always there and we do sort of live a little bit like gypsies right now in that we are home for a few months and then we make a new home in Toronto for three months. He always says, 'That's mommy's work' when he sees a motor home because he thinks of a movie set. He thinks, let's go play in mommy's trailer and bring some toys and we'll have a ball. So right now I really enjoy that. I love travelling with him and I feel like for me, that's my opinion, as a young baby it's best for him to be close to me and close to his parents. Of course he is very safe and it's better for us to be together. When he's older I might change my mind or he might change his mind. 'So I don't want to travel and be a gypsy. I want to be home and go to school with my friends.' I just try and spend as much time with him as I can and really listen to him and look him in the eyes and talk to him and make him feel heard, I guess.
Are you strict with him? I don't really have to be. He's not bad. We have a sort of schedule, but he's a really good kid. We kind of go to bed within two hours of seven and nine every night, but he's tired. He's three and they get sleepy. He's really a doll and really good. I'm not afraid to say no to him if he wants something. I'll reason with him and I'll say, "Okay, you can watch one episode of Scooby but not four and that's it." And when he starts to cry I say, "I'm sorry and we'll watch it again next week or tomorrow", and he's cool about that. To me if you give them options, like here are your two options, you pick, it makes them feel like they have a little bit of a say. Kids have no control really because the parents are deciding everything so it's nice to give them a little bit.
Might you have more kids? I would love to. I love to be a mom. I'm sort of focused right now on just being a good parent to Milo and enjoying him and I'm really enjoying working right now. I don't understand this plan. Getting pregnant is hard and a miracle. I don't think you can plan, like, 'okay, I want to be pregnant next week.'
What's the most important thing you've learned in life? I'm learning lessons every day. I wouldn't say there is one thing in particular. I'm in awe of life every day and every day I learn something and I love it. It's fascinating. I feel like I have all sorts of moments where I think, wow, I can't believe I didn't get that before or realize that. It's such an awakening experience to discover those new things. Just when you think you've got it all figured out something surprises you. I like that.
How do you lead a normal life? It's hard to know what your definition of normal is. My life is not normal in any way and it never has been. But I just try and be myself and it's very different. As I've said, my life, it's really more basic and sometimes it's crazy and I like to participate in my life a lot. I like to be a part of it. I don't really like to be pampered and taken care of all the time. I like to do a lot of things myself.
Do you read gossip magazines? Sometimes. I went to the nail salon the other day and I read US Weekly and OK with my mom and I wasn't in it.
What did you learn reading them? It doesn't matter. You have to take it with a grain of salt. Journalism today has changed. Even the greatest publications are gossips. So unfortunately I don't have very much respect for it in some ways. Everything gets spun. What's that game, telephone, that's what it is nowadays; someone says something and the next person writes it and everything is interpretation and that's the world of technology today.
There are lots of gadgets in The Incredible Hulk. Are you a gadget person? I have a phone and I always had one of these (an old-fashioned cassette recorder) that I used for things I wanted to record like answering machine messages and then Milo kept leaving me messages on my phone and they'd erase after 10 days or whatever on your phone, so my dad got me a digital recorder, but it's a lot bigger than these (the tiny iPods) and I still haven't figured out how to use it, but I like tapes. I'd rather see them piled up with something written on them, and the problem with these things (mini discs, iPods) is they are in the abyss. When you want to look for music, if you see a CD in front of you, you scroll through pages and, oh, I want to listen to that, but if you just see random names you don't really...
Were you into tapes as a teenager? Mix tapes, oh yeah. I still have some actually, all sorts of weird things. I used to love doing that, probably Zeppelin and Sonic Youth and Iggy Pop. I can't remember.
What do you listen to now? I've been obsessed with Gram Parsons all year, but that's something I was really into as a kid. I listen to Gram Parsons a lot. I listen to the Kings of Leon all the time, which is so boring because I always say that. I have a little music machine in my kitchen and in my bathroom and I just push play. And then I listen to the radio a lot, good old classic rock.
As a mum, do you have time to listen to stuff like that? No. That's why I like when I get in the shower I can put on the CD and listen to it for a while. And Milo likes to listen to music with me and dance. It's really funny. He likes certain things. The other day we were listening to the radio and he was like, 'No, I don't like that, turn it off.' (laughs) He didn't like the Ramones, and we changed the channel and the Sex Pistols were on and he loved it. It was funny. He had a real opinion about which one he wanted to listen to. And we listen to a lot of books on tape like Thomas, and those kinds of things, children's books.